Mud and Plastic

My daughter had the idea over dinner that we take a family walk down the road.  When your kid asks to do something outside as a family, it is awfully hard to say no, even if you have your pajamas on unaccountably early and the hour has crept beyond the usual one for dinner.  So I donned the jeans once more, slipped on mud boots with my children, and off we went.

A month ago, the ditch lining the road was deep with ice.  We would walk across with nary a step down.  Now it is muddy, running with melted snow.  The children tossed rocks, some of which made the hoped for splash, some of which stuck impressively into the mud.  They stomped and squished.  The shouted and laughed.  We had a hard time getting them to turn around so we could get home for bed.

We picked up a crazy amount of trash a few weeks ago, but there is more now.  Some of it has peeked out from the ice or snow, but some of it is new.  I can’t get over the amount of new litter to be found in those few weeks.  I want to believe it is just an accident, that each new piece bounced from a truck bed my mistake, but there is too much of it.  People are tossing that crap out the window.  It can bring one down, seeing how someone cares little enough that they will leave it to others to pick up their empties.

We generate enough trash as it is.  Americans generate about 4.6 pounds of solid waste per day, per person, and only about a quarter of it gets recycled, even though we could recycle about 3/4 of it.  A large percentage of that 4.6 pounds seems to wind up along the road.  I picked up two aluminum cans this evening–one whole and filled with mud, the other squashed flat–and one flattened plastic bottle.  I will recycle them.  At least, I will take them to the transfer station to be recycled by someone else, but that is more than my untidy neighbor, whoever he or she might be.

The kids are happy to help me clean things up.  I guess they do understand the importance of cleaning up, even though they left a huge mess on the floor this evening before they went to bed (it got too late to push that one).  They were dirty enough that I told them to leave the rest of the plastic bottles, half buried in the winter’s layer of sand, where they were.  I can go get those later at some point.

I had to do some boot rinsing when we got home.  We were a tad muddy.  I tossed what I was carrying into a blue recycling bin, cleaned some footwear, washed my hands, and headed to the kitchen to clean up that mess.  Sometimes it feels like I spend my whole day cleaning up messes.  But what fun would life be without messes, right?  As soon as I am done here, I think I will pick up all the toys on the floor.  I should probably make the kids clean up their own mess, but I need to be a nice guy once in a while.  Maybe tonight will be that once.

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